At first glance, Madagascar looks like a small uninteresting piece of rock that broke off from mainland Africa. However, one must look much deeper at Madagascar to understand its original origins. While Madagascar shares a plate with Africa currently, it actually broke off of India around 65 million years ago. Going even further back, it was a part of the southern part of Pangea, known as Gondwana.
Moving onward to the current state if the island, the island contains many volcanoes that have created the extreme topography of the island. One such volcano, the Ankaizina, is made up of many “cinder cones, lava flows, and crater lakes” (Seech). Ankaizina has not been active since “the very recent Quaternary” (Volcano.si.edu). The volcano has now become a staple in the bird life in the area. Another volcano, the Itasy, contrary to Ankaizina still has some activity including hot springs, and is also host to semi-frequent seismic activity. Early in the volcano’s life it erupted several times creating many crater lakes and also “produced trachytic lava domes and basanitic lava flows” (Seech). The last known eruption of Itasy was in 6050 B.C. Almost all of the volcanoes in Madagascar have good examples of Cinder cones and also great evidence of Basalt flows (Volcano.si.edu).
Overall, Madagascar has an interesting past of one coast being made from Africa splitting from Gondwana, and the other being made from a split from India. This means that it is far from its original position with India, and also that it has been an island for quite some time. That fact may be some insight to the various plants and animals that are exclusive to the island, as there has been enough time for the animals to evolve in a secluded environment.
This is just a taste of what Madagascar has to offer geographically, and more aspects will be explored in further posts as the trip continues.
NA. “Global Volcanism Program | Volcanoes of the World.” Global Volcanism Program | Volcanoes of the World. Global Volcanism Program, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.